Aya Osman is a behavioral neuroscientist and international fashion model whose work intersects the role of the gut microbiome in the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders (namely autism and addiction), public health, science communication, fashion, and education through entertainment/gaming. Her scientific expertise is in interrogating gut bacterial, host, and integrated pan-kingdom metabolism on brain development and subsequent behavior. She combines multidisciplinary approaches including the use of genetic mouse models of neurodevelopmental disorders with gut microbial and metabolic manipulations to assess the influence on brain transcriptomic profiles and subsequent behavior.
Osman is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman Brain Institute at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and also the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai. Prior to her appointment here, she completed her doctoral training between Imperial College London and the University of Surrey in the UK. Her Ph.D. was in neuropharmacology, investigating the development of brain opioid and oxytocin receptor systems, which play important roles in mood regulation, in response to early life dietary manipulation in the form of weaning and post-weaning milk consumption in rodents.
Prior to embarking on her doctoral and subsequent postdoctoral training, she completed a Master’s Degree in Toxicology where her research project focused on the role of adenosine and glutamate receptors in cocaine addiction. She then held a position as a desk-based toxicologist for the governmental body Public Health England during which she contributed to the publication of two guidance documents on health system preparedness, one of which was in collaboration with the World Health Organization.
Dr. Osman is currently also the Director of Educational Design at Unanimous Games, a New York-based full-service eSports and digital entertainment company. Here her work is geared towards utilizing her behavioral neuroscience background to identify the most effective ways to learn via gaming and assisting in the design and publication of educational games.
Osman harnesses her unique skill set gained from a public-facing role as a fashion model as well as extensive scientific training to communicate science to lay audiences with a particular focus on marginalized communities. Her science communication and outreach work has been featured across multiple prestigious platforms, podcasts, and magazines.